You're wondering just what Representative Weiner's wife is wondering when you shake your head and ask, "What was he thinking?" This question is what everyone asks when a public figure or celebrity gets exposed for sexually inappropriate behaviors. The answer to your question is: he wasn't thinking.
But how could a public figure, with so much to lose, not be thinking about the consequences of sending a picture of his penis over a social networking site, having sex with his maid, hiring a prostitute, cheating on his wife multiple times, disappearing from the country for a weekend, or signaling another male in a restroom for sex?
As I've stated in a previous blog posting, continuing sexual behaviors despite negative consequences is a sign of sexual addiction or compulsivity. When the person with problematic sexual behaviors can't stop, his or her entire world begins to revolve around getting into the sexual experience. It appears that Weiner falls into this category. To date, there have been six reported sex partners. Lisa Weiss, a blackjack dealer from Las Vegas, has reported approximately two hundred twenty text messages exchanged with Weiner. The amount of texting that they engaged in leads me to believe that much of the sexual high for Weiner came from sexual fantasy, not necessarily from having actual sexual liaisons.
Last week Peter Tilden, 790KABC talk radio host, asked me what the thrill was in transmitting a picture of one's penis when there was no way to see the reaction of the receiver. I told him that much of the thrill is in the fantasy and the excitement lies in imagining the receiver when she gets the photo. There's also a narcissistic need to be seen, desired, and adored. Like the gambler, the sex addict doesn't care about the end result. Sex addicts are interested in the game. In Weiner's case, he was clearly into the chase as evidenced by pithy, sexual text exchanges and taking and sending erotic photos. He seemingly had little intention of meeting his sexting partner. Instead, he wanted the titillation because that's what fuels the high and keeps the chase going.
And what about Lisa Weiss, the woman involved with him? What was she getting out of this arrangement?
There is a clear power differential between many of the sexual partners involved with politicians and celebrities. The women in these scenarios are in a one-down position when it comes to social status, money, and power. Often men in power positions prey on women who don't have the means or wherewithal to come forward. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for example, underestimated the chamber maid who blew the whistle on him, but that's another story.
You may say, "Yeah, but it was consensual sex, why should I feel sorry for these women?" You shouldn't feel sorry for them but should take into consideration that women in our culture are still raised to hold the fantasy that "some day my prince will come." In the case of the women who get involved with men in power, they can create a fantasy that they're going to be saved or rescued from their often dissatisfied lives. They may tell themselves stories like "he'll leave his wife for me because he's unhappy in his marriage," or "she doesn't love him the way I do." In either case, the female is living in the delusional fantasy world of the sex addict/cheater who is most likely stoking the fire. These women, however, are not solely victims. Getting involved with a married man points to their own issues with sex and love and they, too, should seek help.
As time goes on, I think we're going to see more and more sexualized behavior from our politicians and celebrities. Does that mean they're the only ones who are cheating and lying? Absolutely not! The accessibility of amateur porn and adult "hook-up" sites makes cheating easier than ever for both genders.
What does this mean for our future? People need to take a good look at their personal value systems and assess whether or not they're living in integrity, especially when they're in the public eye. Every couple needs to clearly and explicitly define what fidelity means for them so there is no gray area--and so that no one gets caught with their pants down.